I'm passionate about enabling young people to achieve their full potential. I have developed innovative approaches to engagement and learning, together with a strong focus on social impact, which result in young people achieving better education and employment outcomes. I was recognised in the 2019 Social Entrepreneurs Index for my work as Chief Executive of City Year UK and have previously founded and grown organisations such as ThinkForward, the Young Lambeth Cooperative and the Centre for Youth Impact.
At City Year UK our full-time volunteer mentors act as role models and tutors, supporting pupils from disadvantaged communities to enjoy and succeed at school. Over the course of their City Year, they also have the opportunity to develop as leaders, with the passion, values, experience and skills to lead transformational change in their communities long after their year of social action.
Prior to joining City Year UK, I was the founding Chief Executive of ThinkForward, a programme providing young people with long term and intensive support to ensure that they make a successful transition from school to work. ThinkForward was incubated in Impetus - The Private Equity Foundation and I previously worked with them as an Investment Director.
Before creating ThinkForward, I worked in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, where I was Deputy Head of Youth Services and then Head of 14-19 Development. Other roles included as Deputy Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services and with the national charities Community Matters and St. John Ambulance. I am a qualified youth worker and teacher and have an MBA from Ashridge Business School. I am currently completing a Doctorate in Education at The University of Cambridge.
In my spare time I am a trustee of the Centre for Youth Impact, a director of the Catch 22 Multi Academies Trust and the volunteer National Youth Engagement Adviser for St. John Ambulance. Previous positions have included as Chair of the British Youth Council, Vice Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council and as a trustee of the National Youth Agency. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Clore Social Leadership programme. the Society for Education and Training and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. I was named by The Guardian in 2008 as one of the 'Future 500' leaders in public life, by Striding Out in 2011 as one of the UK’s top 100 Social Entrepreneurs and in 2018 led the team which won a City of London Dragon Award for responsible business.
With 15 per cent of young people failing to make a successful move from education into employment, ThinkForward is a breakthrough programme which intervenes early to significantly improve the chances of those most at risk of dropping out.
These young people are given a ‘super-coach’ from age 14 through to 19 who provides personalized, sustained support to overcome challenges at home and at school and to build life skills and confidence. Additional access to a business mentor helps establish links to the world of work. The programme doesn’t duplicate effort, rather connects young people with the most relevant local services and networks.
ThinkForward was created in 2010 following research by Impetus - The Private Equity Foundation into how to dramatically reduce the likelihood of young people being not in education, employment or training. It followed a successful pilot run in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. To find out more, watch the film.
Trustee of Centre for Youth Impact
The Centre for Youth Impact is a centre for evidence, capacity building and practice development with a mission to increase the use of high quality evidence in the design, delivery, evaluation, funding and commissioning of services for young people. The Centre was launched in September 2014 to address a historical challenge: an ongoing shortage of evidence to inform the way that programmes and services are funded, commissioned, designed and delivered, and evidence of the difference this work makes to the lives of young people.
Director of Catch22 Multi Academies Trust
Catch22 Multi Academies Trust focuses on learners aged 4-18 who will benefit from small, supportive alternative education provision. Through a growing chain of schools across England, young people are provided with a safe and nurturing environment and a curriculum tailored to their individual needs. With strong pastoral provision and support for behavioural improvement, many learners are re-integrated back to mainstream provision. Whilst for others the preparation for the world of work results in successful progression into employment.
The EdD is a doctorate designed
for practicing educational professionals. It is an innovative programme that harnesses the experience of excellent doctoral research at Cambridge in order to generate, develop and disseminate professional knowledge and support innovation that will have social, educational and practical impact. My research project explores how we can better support young people's transition from school to work.
National Youth Engagement Adviser
St. John Amulance is the UK's leading First Aid charity. We believe that it’s absolutely unacceptable that so many people die needlessly – because no one could give them First Aid when they needed it. So we teach people, including our own young volunteers called Badgers and Cadets, so that they can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. As National Youth Engagement Adviser I support the development and delivery of our youth strategy and programmes.
Interview with London Live on Social Investment, May 2016
'Training for the real world', Partnership for Change, Oslo, May 2013